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Thursday, June 30, 2005

David Foster Wallace on the First Principle of the LM

Dave Rogers was thinking about the First Principal of the LM (Longtailers' Manifesto). In the course of his day he finds Jason Kottke's highly recommended link to David Foster Wallace's commencement address at Kenyon University. Listen to Wallace as he teaches his audience of graduates about the first principle:

Here is just one example of the total wrongness of something I tend to be automatically sure of: everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute center of the universe; the realist, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centeredness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. And so on. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real.

Here's Mr Wallace on freedom:

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.

You really owe it to yourself to read the whole thing, and thanks to Jason and Dave for bringing it our way. I eagerly await Dave's upcoming thoughts on truth, freedom and ignorance.